Members of the Lake County Sheriff’s Office Canine Unit pose for a photo after being recognized by the Lake County Board on Tuesday. | Provided Photo

The Lake County Sheriff’s Office said their canine unit, consisting of 10 canines, had an “extremely successful” year in 2023 and responded to almost 500 calls.

The Lake County Sheriff’s Office Canine Unit was deployed 497 times to respond to various calls for canine assistance in 2023, according to Lake County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Chief Christopher Covelli.

64% of those incidents originated from sheriff’s office calls for service and 36% of the incidents were assisting local police departments.

The canine teams located 72 people in 2023 who were either missing and endangered or individuals fleeing a violent crime, Covelli said.

They located eight firearms during article searches, as well as significant amounts of fentanyl, heroin, methamphetamine, LSD, cocaine and illegally possessed cannabis.

The office’s electronics detection canine located 33 concealed electronic devices, resulting in the arrest of six individuals for sexually-based offenses.

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“Community engagement is a key component for our canine team, and last year our canines participated in 48 community canine demonstrations throughout Lake County,” Covelli said.

The Lake County Board on Tuesday read a special recognition honoring the Lake County Sheriff’s Office Canine Unit.

“We are grateful for the recognition and praise received by our county leaders at yesterday’s Lake County Board meeting. I could not be more proud of our ten canines and their partners,” Lake County Sheriff John Idleburg said.

“The results produced by our canine unit shows what an incredible resource they are to the Lake County community. We are happy to assist our municipal neighbors, as proven with over 170 calls to provide canine assistance to our municipalities,” Idleburg said.

The canine unit is comprised of Canine Axel and Deputy Kevin Gauer; Canine Boomer and Deputy Brian Kilpatrick; Canine Danno and Deputy Andrew Martini; Canine Dax and Deputy John Forlenza; Canine Drako and Deputy Roxana Stancioiu; Canine Duke and Deputy Dwight Arrowood; Canine Loki and Deputy Kevin Lowe; Canine Odin and Deputy Matthew Savage; Canine Tera and Detective Cory Kemp; and Canine Zeus and Deputy Kevin Harris.

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The sheriff’s office said they are working to continue expanding their canine unit.